• Yanks Future: Artificial Players & Artificial Fans?

    Posted by on December 18th, 2007 · Comments (11)

    In an exchange of e-mails between a friend and I this morning, regarding the Yankees ticket price increase for next season, I found myself writing:

    The days of going to 9 games [at Yankee Stadium], or more, a year, are out for me. Sad. I can’t afford it. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to be there for 3 or 4 games a year.

    Thinking about it some more, I’m starting to wonder if Yankee Stadium will become like the Titanic when it set out to sea – with all the rich people staying on top, living the high-life, and all the poor people jammed into the bowels of the ship, crammed in there, huddled, and wondering what it’s like for the affluent folks in the nice parts of the vessel.

    Seriously, since the Yankees are “reversing the bowls” in their new Stadium – meaning there will be more seats on the bottom level as opposed to the upper deck, which is the opposite of the current Stadium where there are more seats in the upper deck than at field level – will the new Stadium have all the rich people on the first level and the poor people jammed into what few seats will be there in the upper deck?

    Worse, when you factor in the current demand for Yankees tickets, and the lure of the new Stadium, will the average to less-than-average income person even be able to buy Yankees tickets come 2009?

    You know, not too long ago, Jacobs Field in Cleveland had 455 straight sellouts from June 12, 1995 through April 4, 2001. Further, the Indians actually sold all 81 home games before opening day during three separate seasons. Needless to say, there was a time when getting a ticket to a baseball game in Cleveland was a hard thing to do.

    I was actually in Cleveland, during the season in 1999, on a business trip with a friend – and our meetings were scheduled not far from “The Jake.” On the taxi ride from the airport to our meeting, I asked the cabbie if it was, indeed, impossible to get a ticket to the game (that night). He asked me if the first inning was important to me. When I asked him why, he said “If you want to scalp tickets, you’re going to need a loan from the bank. But, if you’re willing to miss the first inning, by that time, the scalpers are willing to then sell the tickets at face value or less – rather than risk not selling the tickets at all.”

    Thinking about this today – is this what it’s going to come down to in the Bronx after 2008? Is the only way that you’ll be able to afford decent seats to a Yankees game will be if you’re willing to scalp after the first inning is already played?

    Worse, I don’t think that the Yankees care that they’re forcing the “everyday diehard fan” out of being able to go to a game. There will be enough well-to-do people, celebrities, corporations, etc., willing to buy tickets for games at the new Stadium – so, at the end of the day, the Yankees will still get their revenue. But, I will suggest this: There will be a change in the atmosphere at the new Stadium. With the “died in the wool” fans relegated to the few seats affordable and available in the upper deck and/or bleachers, and the majority of the seats filled with “Milli Vanilli type” poser-fans, going to a Yankees game, after 2008, will have an artificial feel to it.

    It’s funny: Many people like to say that the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is vain, sensitive, insecure…and, overcoached and artificial.

    Is this the Yankees future? Artificial players and artificial fans?

    To quote the Chez Quis Maitre D’ in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “I weep for the future.”

    Comments on Yanks Future: Artificial Players & Artificial Fans?

    1. Sonny M
      December 18th, 2007 | 1:04 pm

      I’ve always hated the class arguements.

      When did rich people stop counting as real fans, and when did working class automatically mean diehards?

      No, I don’t like the idea of outpricing any group of fans, but I also don’t think that the “culture” will change just because some fans have higher salaries then other fans and go to the games.

      I guess some folks view “well to do” as being something less then human or not being true fans, while “regular” folks are more true.

      Never really thought income indicated level of support for a team.

    2. baileywalk
      December 18th, 2007 | 1:17 pm

      Sonny beat me to it. I was going to write the same thing. Your level of wealth does not indicate how much of a fan you are — and many people do not maintain the same level of income their entire lives; people who were poor growing up are millionaires as adults.

      And how do you define “rich” and “not rich”? Is an upper-middle-class family who goes out for one night to the Stadium and gets good seats “rich”?

      I worry a bit — as I said in the previous post — that normal folks will be priced out, but I don’t think the worry is about the atmosphere of the Stadium.

      Your level of wealth — be it high or low — never fully indicates anything about your personality or preferences. That’s the height of stereotyping. And I really never think we’ll reach a point where the entire Stadium goes company-season-tickets.

    3. December 18th, 2007 | 1:31 pm

      Fair point – I suppose someone can be rich and be a diehard fan.

      But, I think the diehard fan is a subset of the rich set..so, it’s not like all the rich people there will be diehard fans.

      Whereas, with the “poor” folks – they’re only going to go because they’re diehards..make sense?

    4. brockdc
      December 18th, 2007 | 1:33 pm

      “There will be a change in the atmosphere at the new Stadium…going to a Yankees game, after 2008, will have an artificial feel to it.”

      I think the transformation is already well underway, Steve. Over the past ten years, The Stadium has been subjugated by the pink hat and count the rings Blackberry crowd, many of whom attend Yankee games because it’s the hottest ticket in town – not because they live and die with the outcome of every game, like most of us here do. In other news, the ratio of designer suits to families has skyrocketed over the past ten years.

      I’m not writing this as an indictment of the rich, but it’s a fact that if you ONLY follow the laws of unfettered free market supply and demand that a segment of the population is ultimately going to get crunched.

    5. Rich
      December 18th, 2007 | 1:34 pm

      I have never understood how A-Rod is more artificial than virtually any other similarly high priced player on the Yankees, e.g., it’s not like Jeter ever shows his humanity in an interview, but if baseball teams are supposed to be a public trust, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be concerned about the way rising prices are shutting out people with either lower incomes or lower net worths.

      Perhaps a portion of the bleachers should be set aside as a price fixed area to target that group.

    6. Sonny M
      December 18th, 2007 | 1:50 pm

      I’m going to go for a dirty low shot.

      The red sox have the highest ticket prices in all of baseball (to go with such low seating capacity), does this mean that only rich red sox fans or non diehard fans go to the game?

      Has the atmosphere at Fenway park changed the last few years with fake red sox fans?

      Is fenway park full of only wealthy phoney fans?

      I think one would be very hardpressed to make that argument.

    7. December 18th, 2007 | 2:26 pm

      ~~~Has the atmosphere at Fenway park changed the last few years with fake red sox fans?~~~

      From http://www.tarves.net/2007/10/17/dear-red-sox-managementyou-suck

      “Well, looks like we have ourselves a juxtaposition. Either a disproportionate amount of Red Sox fans made up the increasing population in New England, or we have ourselves a bit of a bandwagon-jumping problem. In all seriousness though, this is what’s happening. There’s been an explosion of what the Sports Guy calls the pink hat crowd. Not to offend anyone with a pink Sox hat, but this term refers to the increasing number of “fans” who don’t know anything about A) baseball, B) the Red Sox, C) not acting like douchebags when they sit where the cameras can see them.

      With the recent revitalization of Yawkey Way/Landsdowne Street thanks to the new ownership, Fenway Park has become the place to be in Boston. Every game is like Mardi Gras crossed with a trendy L.A. hotspot. It’s fun, and it’s where anyone who’s anyone should be. Case in point, Dane F’n Cook. Let’s ignore the fact that you’re the single biggest no-talent ass clown that’s ever walked the face of the earth. Stop shamelessly self-promoting yourself as a Red Sox. You’re like the new Ben Affleck. Growing up in Arlington, you’d think it’s reasonable for Dane to be a Sox fan. But he admittedly didn’t start following the Red Sox “until a few years ago.” Now, the media treats him like the go-to Sox guy. Ugh.”

    8. mph2373
      December 18th, 2007 | 5:06 pm

      I think most people will still be able to go, just not as often. I just commented in your last post about ticket price increases and I’m still hoping to get seats at the new stadium. Will I be able to afford a season plan? Will I only be able to go to a few games? It’s scary. I know the team needs to do what it can to make as much money as it can. That doesn’t mean I’m not scared that what I look forward to every year will change to me sitting at a bar or my couch instead of at the game.

      I also agree with brockdc, since I have noticed the new types of people that attend games.

      Steve’s last comment just shows it’s going to happen everywhere. Great…

    9. December 19th, 2007 | 10:50 am

      i remember sitting in very good seats at the 98 WS game 1. it was the first inning and Wells had two strikes on the hitter. i stood to clap. someone behind me (an older gent wearing nice clothes) told me to sit down. i told him it’s the World Series! (of course, most of the stadium was already standing too.) i think i stood anyway for that ab, but then sat for the rest.

      it’s true that JUST BECAUSE a fan is rich doesn’t mean he’s not diehard, and vice versa, but it certainly does SEEM that way. how often do suits sitting in box seats stand up and cheer vs. the Yankee apparelled upper deck guys? is it just a coincidence that whenever i watch a game on TV, the fans in the seats closest to homeplate are always the last to stand and cheer (on 2 strikes)? and not just in the Bronx but every ballpark. does anyone really think the box seats crowd are as ‘diehard’ as the bleacher creatures?

    10. SteveB
      January 2nd, 2008 | 10:51 am

      It seems as though you are making an assumption that people with money can’t be “real fans.”

      I went to the Aaron Boone game when I was making no money, thanks to the fact that I got access to corporate tickets. It did not make me less of a true fan.

    11. Corey
      January 2nd, 2008 | 12:04 pm

      all of you arguing with steve are missing the point. he’s not saying that all rich people can’t be diehard fans, he’s just stating that theres a percentage of them, a rather large percentage, that aren’t diehard fans. And when you compare that with the family that has to scrape up the cash to go to the game you realize that that percentage of lets say “casual” fans don’t exist in the family. If they were “casual” fans they would more likely watch it on tv rather then risk a possible financial burden

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